California Solar Initiative Newsletter August 2009                 

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California Center for Sustainable Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Southern California Edison

Go Solar, California! Web site

Greetings ,

In anticipation of this October’s Solar Energy Month campaign, we are announcing a new Community Solar Calendar on the Go Solar, California! Web site. If you have any upcoming solar events then let Go Solar, California! help you promote to thousands of solar enthusiasts statewide! Look for more announcements in your area as Solar Energy Month draws near.

In This Issue

Upcoming Workshops and Trainings by Program Territory

csi-nl-box-sept Free Statewide Workshops by the California Solar Initiative
CSI Program Administrators sponsor free, ongoing workshops for solar customers and installers on a variety of topics.

Workshops in PG&E Service Territory

Workshops in SCE Service Territory

Workshops in SDG&E Service Territory by the California Center for Sustainable Energy

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PG&E Approaches "Step 6" Incentive Level for Residential Applications

On August 21 Program Administrators at PG&E announced that enough applications have been received to step down from Step 5 incentive levels to Step 6 incentive levels for residential CSI applications in PG&E's service territory. When the step change goes into effect, incentives will be reduced from $1.55 per watt to $1.10 per watt. Program Administrators issue notification of official incentive changes to the California Solar Initiative (CSI) program service list.

"We're pleasantly surprised to see applications coming in at as fast a pace as ever before," said Andrew Yip, supervisor on PG&E's CSI team. "Despite California's steep economic challenges, the natural advantages of solar energy continue to resonate with our customers."

To facilitate timely reservations, PG&E encourages CSI applicants to submit all required documentation with new applications. PG&E and all of the Program Administrators remind applicants that the incentive rate is not determined until a project receives a confirmed reservation.

Additionally, PG&E requests notice of any reserved applications that are no longer proceeding and need to be cancelled. While historic data shows residential customers usually complete applications within four to six months from the reservation date, PG&E has more than 900 residential applications that have been reserved for longer than seven months, accounting for 5 MW. Please let the assigned PG&E project manager know if you have any projects that need to be cancelled, so they can maximize the megawatts in Step 5.

For up-to-date information on the step change, please visit the State Incentive Trigger Tracker Web site at www.csi-trigger.com.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for August 27, 2009

California Solar Initiative
August 27, 2009
Customer Class
Current Step
Incentive Level
  Revised Total MW in Steps
MW Remaining
MW Under Review
$1.55/watt; $0.22/kWh
$1.55/watt; $0.22/kWh
Gov't/Non-profit $2.30/watt; $0.32/kWh
$1.90/watt; $0.26/kWh
$1.90/watt; $0.26/kWh
Gov't/Non-profit $2.30/watt; $0.32/kWh
$1.55/watt; $0.22/kWh
$1.55/watt; $0.22/kWh
Gov't/Non-profit $2.30/watt; $0.32/kWh

The California Solar Initiative Trigger Tracker provides an indication of when the CSI incentive levels are expected to drop by showing the reservation and review status of all incentive classes. This snapshot compares the megawatts remaining in each step with the megawatts under review, so that users can estimate how close the incentives are to declining. When there are more megawatts under review than remaining in the step, it is probable that any new applications will be at the next (i.e. lower) incentive step level.

>> click here
to view today’s Statewide Trigger Tracker.

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Call for Solar System Data

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is requesting performance data from customers on solar systems that were subsidized by rebates from the State of California-authorized rebate programs, including the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), the Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) and the Rebuild a Greener San Diego Solar Program. If you have a solar system on your home or commercial building that received any of these subsidies, then the CPUC wants to hear from you.

An effective CSI Program is important for the future success of the solar industry. To successfully gauge the CSI program’s effectiveness, the CPUC will need performance data information from both large and small systems. The CPUC is requesting your assistance in collecting solar system performance data for systems that you have installed and for which you collect performance data. The collected solar system performance data will be used to understand:

  • if the CSI Program is meeting its objective of optimizing solar system performance with incentives that encourage optimal system performance.
  • the extent to which solar customers are contributing to electricity peak load reduction. (Answering this question requires 15-minute or hourly data as opposed to daily, monthly or annual production data.)
  • the extent to which solar customers are contributing to greenhouse gas reductions.
  • how solar system performance varies in different geographical regions.
  • the effect of solar customers on California’s electricity grid.
  • the cumulative impact of solar projects installed in PG&E, SDG&E and SCE territories.

To ensure the privacy and confidentiality of specific confidential customer and contractor data, all submissions of performance data will be aggregated for reports.

The CPUC and CSI Program Administrators thank you in advance for your consideration and valuable contribution to the program. For detailed information about submitting solar performance data, click here.

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CPUC Hosts Workshop for Statewide Solar Water Heating Program Proposal

On Aug. 3, the CPUC hosted a workshop to publicly present and answer questions on the Energy Division's Staff Proposal for a statewide solar water heating program, known as the CSI-Thermal Program, issued on July 15.

Interested parties submitted comments to the CPUC on Aug. 12, and reply comments were due by Aug. 24. CPUC Staff and the administrative law judge will carefully consider feedback and suggestions on the technical, economic and policy-related aspects of the statewide program and incorporate those recommendations into a proposed decision expected later this year.

For complete information about the developing solar water heating program, visit the CPUC solar water heating Web site.

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CSI Meter and Market Assessment Report Issued; PAs File Advice Letter 5% Meter Accuracy

The final California Solar Initiative (CSI) Solar Meter and Market Assessment Report was issued on Aug. 6. The report was developed by KEMA, with input from PG&E, SCE and CCSE, and covers a variety of topics related to photovoltaic (PV) data transfer and communications, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and metering. The report can be found at www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Solar/.

The major issues addressed in the report include evaluation of existing PV monitoring products and service, AMI integration with PV and the CSI and market assessment of solar metering. The report also contains performance specifications and test requirements for inverter-integrated +/- 5% accurate meters.

On August 13, PG&E, on behalf of the CSI Program Administrators, submitted Advice Filing 3506-E to propose amendments that will add these Inverter-Integrated 5% Meter Performance Specifications and Test Requirements into the CSI Program Handbook. The amendments also set the timeframe for inverter-integrated meters that will qualify for the CSI Program in 2010 and 2011.

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Solar Energy Week in San Diego Promotes Change for a Clean Energy Future

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) will be putting solar in the spotlight in San Diego during Solar Energy Week, Sept. 27–Oct. 3, 2009.

Solar Energy Week is San Diego’s most comprehensive solar celebration, featuring a series of events that bring together residents and business owners with solar experts, suppliers and installers to explore the benefits of using sunlight for electricity and water heating.

Solar Energy Week is also the kick-off to the statewide Solar Energy Month in October. Solar Energy Week offers activities for everyone, from families and kids to engineers and policymakers. There's a day-long solar conference, tours of solar homes and commercial installations and a free family fun day.

Family Solar Day: On Sunday, Sept. 27, the week will start with a free, public afternoon in the park at San Diego’s historic Liberty Station in Point Loma. The whole family can learn about powering their world with the sun in a casual, relaxed atmosphere with interactive, hands-on exhibits, solar experiments, solar cooking demonstrations and a coloring contest for kids. This is an opportunity for residents to ask the experts questions about solar solutions and technologies.

CCSE Solar Conference: Set for Tuesday, Sept. 29, at San Diego’s Marriott Mission Valley, this day-long conference will explore the latest in policy, trends, technologies and many other important industry issues with expert speakers from the government and private sectors. The conference also includes a solar expo featuring the latest products and technologies. This hub for solar energy information is a great green jobs and solar industry networking opportunity.

Commercial Solar Tour: On Thursday, Oct. 1, CCSE is holding a tour of selected local businesses showcasing various solar technologies and solutions throughout San Diego. Attendees will be able to speak with business owners and solar installers about their installations.

The 10th Annual Solar Homes Tour: On Saturday, Oct. 3, CCSE is joining with the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) to showcase more than 50 residential homes with solar technology in San Diego County. This self-guided tour gives participants the opportunity to speak with homeowners and installers to get all their questions answered. Solar technologies on display include solar electric (photovoltaic), solar water heating and solar pool heating.

For more information about Solar Energy Week 2009 in San Diego, visit www.solarenergyweek.org.

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PG&E to Debut Fall Schedule of Solar Classes

PG&E has announced its fall semester solar and renewable energy class schedule at www.pge.com/solarclasses. Sign up today for a live or online class, as classes fill up quickly.

Traditional favorites such as the CSI Workshop and Solar System Basics are included, as well as some newer additions, such as Integrating Energy Efficiency and Renewables and Solar Water Heating System Basics. As always, PG&E classes are open to the public.

Contact Lisa Shell at L1SB@pge.com should you have any class-related questions.

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RD&D Accepts First Round of Grant Proposals

On July 8, the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program announced the release of its first Grant Funding Solicitation for the Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment (RD&D) Program.

This solicitation will fund up to $15 million and targets integration of photovoltaics (PV) into the utility grid and focuses on the following activities:

  1. planning and modeling for high-penetration PV
  2. testing and development of hardware and software for high-penetration PV
  3. addressing the near-term integration of energy efficiency, demand response and storage along with PV

Awards are expected to be made by December 2009. The next grant funding solicitation will be issued in draft form in September. For more information, visit the California Solar Research Web site.

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MASH Program Processing Applications Statewide

Since the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program launched and began accepting applications for the fixed Track 1 rebates in February 2009, program administrators have been busy promoting the newest addition to the CSI program and processing applications. The multifamily affordable housing community has shown a strong interest in MASH and has already submitted 67 applications statewide. So far, a total of 47 applications have been reserved. For Track 2, a competitive grant-style application is also under way, and developers statewide are actively putting their applications together to make the September 30 deadline. For more information about the MASH Program, visit the MASH Web site on http://www.gosolarcalifornia.com/csi/low_income.html.

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Save the Date: SolarTech Workforce Symposium

On Thursday, Oct. 1, SolarTech will hold a one-day forum on current and developing workforce needs facing the energy industry.

Leading solar executives, industry leaders and economic experts will take part in a robust dialogue aimed at identifying the needs and training opportunities expected over the next two to three years.

Check the SolarTech Web site for additional details - www.solartech.org.

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Caltrans Goes Solar

As part of a comprehensive effort to lower their carbon footprint, Caltrans recently submitted California Solar Initiative (CSI) applications for solar PV projects at more than 60 Caltrans facilities throughout the state and throughout the three CSI Program Administrator territories.

In PG&E's service territory alone, more than 30 applications have been submitted for projects with an aggregate capacity of approximately 860 kW, garnering incentives totaling more than $1.6 million. In addition, SCE has received a total of 18 applications with an aggregate capacity of 394 kW for more than $900,000 in incentives. CCSE has received 5 applications from Caltrans with an aggregate capacity of 246 kW for more than $680,000 in incentives.

Caltrans is working with the State Treasurer's Office to secure financing for these projects, which they will own and operate through Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs). These CREBs provide a low-interest financing option for public entities installing renewable technologies, such as PV systems.

Recognizing the value of approaching energy-efficiency measures first to reduce PV system costs and receive a quicker return on investment, Caltrans has actively been pursuing energy-efficiency upgrades in preparation for their solar projects.

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Central Valley's Solar Efforts in Spotlight

As municipalities have been hit hard by the state’s economic crisis, the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) is providing builders with the resources to create new energy-efficient solar communities in some of California’s most impacted regions.

Manteca and the surrounding Central Valley, in PG&E’s service territory, are celebrating the region’s 10th NSHP community, while becoming a prime example of how residents are taking advantage of the 60 percent savings when purchasing a new energy-efficient solar home.

City officials, such as Manteca Mayor Willie W. Weatherford, are also getting behind the Go Solar, California! mission. The mayor recognized area builders’ commitment to energy-efficient solar homes construction at a recent Woodside Homes solar savings event in Manteca. The event highlighted the great strides Manteca is making to become a flagship city for energy efficiency in the Central Valley.

The NSHP is currently creating a tool kit to help cities and municipalities use marketing resources and incentives to promote developing residential and commercial solar communities.

For more information on NSHP communities across California and to locate one in your area, visit www.gosolarcalifornia.org/communities/index.html.

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Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Solar Systems

Calling all installers and solar system owners! This is a great opportunity to showcase your CSI-funded solar projects. The California Solar Initiative Program seeks photos of CSI-funded solar systems for use in future newsletters or other CSI-related publicity. Photos can include completed solar PV systems, shots of installations in progress or solar water heating installations.

Please provide the following when submitting your solar PV system, solar water heating system or installation photos.

  • name of photographer
  • name of installer, seller and/or system owner
  • system size and location
  • date project was installed
  • full permission to use photo in CSI-related publicity

>> click here to submit your CSI-funded solar system photos.

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CCSE | PG&E | SCE | ©2008 California Solar Initiative


The CSI program is funded by California investor-owned utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the California Center for Sustainable Energy under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, California 94102